Posted by on December 2, 2021

Hog Watch Manitoba and Plumas group Decries Government Subsidies to Topigs Norsvin
$2.2 million to
Foreign Company Ignoring Community Concerns and Opposition

Winnipeg (December 2, 2021) – Hog Watch Manitoba shares the anger and frustration felt by many Plumas area residents who fought the approval of 2 large hog facilities in their municipality this past summer. Not only are they angered by the decision to go ahead with these two huge barns in the face of so much local opposition but now to find that their tax dollars are going to pay for it, is outrageous. They dispute the company’s claim this is being built in an isolated area as there are 8 homes in less than a 3 km circumference of one barn and the other is in close range to the Big Grass River and marshland, environmentally sensitive areas. There were 52 letters of opposition to the proposal and numerous presentations made expressing legitimate concerns about health impacts from toxic emissions from barns and open manure lagoons, and water consumption of 44,000 gallons a day depleting local water resources.
Hog Watch Manitoba is calling on both the provincial and federal governments to review their decision and if it cannot be reversed, provide local residents with assurances that toxic odour problems and water shortages will not be allowed. Mitigation such as air scrubbers on barns and water rights being enshrined should be imposed.
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For more Information:
Vicki Burns, Hog Watch Manitoba
204-489-3852 vickiburns@mts.net

Pigs in pens in industrial barn
Pigs in industrial barn

Letter to the Editor Explaining the Topigs Norsvin Situation near Plumas

Left with the stench!

We are writing in response to Martin Cash’s article  “Governments invest $2.2 M in pork projects” (Free Press November 20)

To the uninformed, the Topigs Norsvin project sounds like a sterile research facility to be built in an isolated area in the province with little environmental impact.  In essence what is being built are two large industry hog barns, one will house 1600 sows and the other 10,200 weanlings. They will each have open pit lagoons to store liquid manure and require over 4000 acres of land over which to spread the liquid manure.  (This information can be accessed under  MB government TRC 12-803 and TRC 12-804)

The barns are NOT being built in an isolated area of the province. In fact one of the barns is already being built amongst local farm families.  There are 8 homes within 2.6 km of the first barn, for a total of 35 people.    The second barn is situated approximately 4 km southeast of the first, where there are no homes within 3 km.  But this second barn is an environmental concern as it is only 1.5 km from the Big Grass River and marshland.  These are the same wetlands that the Federal Government recognizes are in need of preservation.  The run off from the fields, partially injected with liquid manure, ends up in the ditches and ultimately in the marsh.  Any breech of a manure reservoir which hold up to 500 days of manure, would also jeopardize the marshland.  This same area was the site of the first Ducks Unlimited project in Canada (1938) and is an important site for the study of prairie habitat and migratory birds.
In a time of drought when farmers have been scrambling for water for their cattle, the water requirement for the two barns will be over 44,000 gallons per day.  What plan does government have to ensure that farmers in the area are not short changed?

52 letters were sent to the TRC in opposition to the barns.  Many people presented at the local RM Westlake-Gladstone hearing in opposition to the proposed sites and gave very good reasons.  The air pollution was a major concern for people living in close vicinity.  Proven health risks to people living within 2 km of hog barns were presented and water resources were questioned.
No one listened to the local people, not the provincial nor the municipal government.  We realized that we could not fight the hog industry in this province but we thought that when alternate more isolated sites for the barns were suggested, we would have some influence. In the end we might as well have saved our energy.  Government had made this decision long before the taxpayers even heard about it.  It is sad that foreign companies are allowed to use our resources, pollute our air, land and water, then ship their product abroad and pocket the profits, while Manitoba residents are left with the pollution and the stench. Foreign hog barns like Topigs are thrilled to come to Manitoba because our safety and pollution regulations are way below the Netherlands standards, thus increasing their profits.
It is outrageous that our government uses taxpayer dollars to induce/entice foreign companies like Topigs to come build in Manitoba. Along with the $2.2 million dollar subsidy which our government so proudly brags about, they also gave away 50% of the water from our Grass River right in the middle of a drought year and during escalating climate change concerns.  It seems to make no difference to the decision makers in this province, that these factory hog barns are located so close to our homes and that they will become devalued due to the stench from pig manure. In addition, there is a negative impact to our health and a risk to our fresh water wells becoming contaminated. This fall, our Grass River had next to nil water flow and there is a serious risk to it becoming depleted with Topig’s future usage. Our marshland, is protected by Ducks Unlimited, yet they had absolutely no power in preventing the barns from being built because they are funded by our provincial government and could not risk their jobs and future funding. How tragic is that? Lake Manitoba, which is a water source for Sandy Bay First Nations People, also risks contamination but this PC government chose not to confer with them in any of the decision making plans.  In conjunction with all of the above, Topigs will also receive the same tax breaks and pay the same amount of property taxes as any Manitoba farmer. 

When Bill 19 (The Planning Amendment Act) received Royal Assent on June 4, 2018, this government took away the people’s voice. Just because you have a municipal process in place to voice your concerns, doesn’t mean that those concerns will be heard or considered; especially when the government has their own agenda to follow! Not all the facts/numbers have been factored into the equation for the cost of doing business and we as Manitobans should be very afraid when individual/community rights are totally ignored and overridden. We are being ruled by an authoritarian government, not a democratic one. 

How do we know all this?  We are tax payers who have property within 3 km of the barns and we have first hand knowledge of the area.  In 2017 the PC government decided that 600 hog barns in Manitoba was not enough and lifted the moratorium on hog barns.    We look forward to the next election when hopefully our votes will bring about change.  Tragically, it is too late for the people who live north of Plumas who are left with the pollution and stench, but BEWARE of future hog barns coming to a location near you, since there is nothing in place to stop them!

Shirley Post
Arlene Walker

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